Report delivers 'loud wake-up call' over responsible gambling shortcomings
The gambling industry has been issued with a stark warning that staff are not receiving suitable training for the promotion of safe gambling.
According to a new report, the industry's customers also feel existing responsible gambling messages are often confusing and unclear.
Marc Etches, chief executive of problem gambling charity GambleAware that published the report, said it was a "loud wake-up call" for the sector, while the Association of British Bookmakers indicated it would study the research for lessons in its area.
The report was commissioned by the Industry Group for Responsible Gambling (IGRG), which represents the Association of British Bookmakers and Remote Gambling Association as well as the bingo, casino and amusements trade bodies.
It revealed many staff had not had practical training in how to promote responsible gambling in their day-to-day jobs while few had the confidence to communicate effectively with customers how to minimise the risks.
At worst, GambleAware said, they could inadvertently encourage customers to "chase their losses", or develop flawed "winning strategies".
Confusing and unclear
Although the research, carried out by the Revealing Reality agency, found some operators were in the process of developing new training strategies, staff surveyed said there was more emphasis on regulatory compliance than actually helping customers day-to-day.
The research also identified the need for more creativity and investment in the development of responsible gambling material, with customers saying promotional and commercial content conflicted with responsible gambling messages, which were often confusing and unclear.
Etches said: "This is a loud wake-up call to the gambling industry. The voices in this report crystallise the challenge of delivering effective social responsibility on the front line.
'Time and effort'
"Frankly, the gambling industry must do much better to ensure staff and customers know when, how and where to seek help.
"This report shows where the gaps are. Significant investment of time and effort is needed to protect players better from gambling-related harm in the first place. We hope the industry heeds the call to step up and give the wellbeing of customers much greater priority."
Responses to the shortcomings identified will now be formally trialled and evaluated as pilots at a variety of gambling venues and online.
More than 95 players and more than 90 staff were interviewed for the report, which had the support of operators from across the sector.
An ABB spokesman said: "The GambleAware report makes an important contribution towards identifying best practice across the whole gambling industry, including casinos, arcades and online operators."
He added: "We will study the report for any further learnings for the whole gambling industry as we continually develop new responsible gambling initiatives in betting shops."
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